Japan Plans Office to Assist Armed Forces of Like-Minded Countries

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Foreign Ministry

The government plans to establish an office within the Foreign Ministry to promote official security assistance (OSA), it has been learned.

With an eye on expanding the budget for OSA — a framework that provides free defense equipment to like-minded countries — the new office will oversee information gathering, select recipient countries and verify the program’s effectiveness, according to several government sources.

The office will be set up within the ministry’s Foreign Policy Bureau, which oversees foreign policy. The office will likely be staffed by officials with expertise in security and international cooperation, with numbers gradually increasing after an initial low staff count.

Unlike the government’s official development assistance program (ODA), which is limited to providing nonmilitary help, the OSA framework allows for providing direct support to the armed forces of developing countries that share values with Japan.

OSA was established to enhance the deterrence capabilities of like-minded countries in the Indo-Pacific region considering China’s maritime expansion and military buildup.

The Philippines, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Fiji were selected as the first four recipient countries, and the government has earmarked ¥2 billion in the budget for fiscal 2023 to cover related costs.

The OSA’s operational guidelines stipulate that assistance should be provided within the framework of the Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology, so as not to encourage conflict.

The new office will check whether recipient countries follow the rules and ensure transparency regarding the usage of assistance funds.